Friday, January 29, 2010

This is what building community through the farm looks like

Oh man. It has been brought to my attention that I am easily excitable. This past week people described me as, "peppy," and "perky." Words which don't conjure up the most pleasant images in my mind. Someone else said energetic, and I guess I will stick with that.

Well, people- I am excited right now. Freaking out on the inside about to explode with excitement excited. So, read the following. I dare you to try to keep the pep out of your step after reading.

Exciting thing#1- Join the Farm/The Abundant Table Farm Project is linking up with Cal State Channel Islands (CSUCI-about five miles down the road) as a community partner for the Sociology Deptartment's Capstone Project. Sociology students work with community organizations design and implement surveys to help organizations better provide community services. ATFP came up with project ideas and Kat and I presented them to the capstone students. Our Capstone collaboration ideas focus on lower-income local produce accessibility and local institutional local produce accessibility (rad, right?!). We will work with students to design surveys that will help us better understand factors in low-income and institutional food consumption, so we can more effective reach those communities with our produce.

Exciting thing #2- So after I gave the presentation (alongside my community heroes Cathy Brudnicki of Ventura County Homeless & Housing Coalition, Kathryn Benner of Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation-affordable housing and Kathryn is also our CSA subscriber, Todd from Project Understanding, Sandy Nirenberg from Camarillo Hospice, Rafaela Frausto from Neighborhoods for Learning, and Cameron from Coastal Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy) Cameron from CAUSE approached me about a future survey CAUSE is planning to assess food access/security in Santa Paula and South Oxnard. He is experienced and knowledgeable in designing surveys and would like to help us with our capstone to make sure our surveys are relevant and appropriate to gather the kind of data our organizations can use to work together to improve healthy food access in Ventura County! CAUSE can then use some of our survey questions in their survey! Again- this is rad. This is the type of cross-organizational community building that can really affect local change. I'm visualizing Aspen grove imagery. When organizations collaborate, or build solid connected root systems, the community organism as a whole can thrive. We are building solid foundational systems to support big efforts that ultimately result in a healthier community.

Exciting thing #3- Rafeala Frausto of Neighborhoods for Learning works with parents, schools, early childhood educators, and service providers to offer a web of support for young children and families designed by and for each community. She wants ATFP to come out to their next meeting to connect NFL families with our CSA! Young families in the county eating our local, organic vegetables!

Exciting thing #4- Sandy Niremberg of Camarillo Hospice has been a wonderful resource in connecting Join the Farm! with the Camarillo Farmer's Market. Today, she also gave me a great connection with food service at CSUCI. Join the Farm! produce in CSUCI's cafeterias!

I know all of these relationships and opportunities will take time to cultivate and grow. It's like seeing a yellow tomato blossom or bean blossom. You know it is going to grow into something good. Yes, that is exciting.

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